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Village Board Updates Community On Crime Prevention Efforts

New law tightens regulations on peddling, soliciting

The Village of Westbury Board of Trustees addressed the public on Feb. 2 on several items of community interest, including its most recent efforts to deter crime and suspicious activity in the village.

The board discussed and enacted a new local law to better monitor and enforce restrictions on peddling and soliciting activity within village boundaries.

“This is a result of the heightened concern in the community about some of the activities that were taking place in late summer and early fall,” said Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro.

The mayor added that several residents were specifically concerned with what seemed to be a proliferation of door-to-door peddling in the village.

“We have always had a statute which essentially prevents peddling without a village-issued peddler’s license,” said the mayor.

The mayor explained that the village code currently requires a Nassau County Police Department officer to issue summonses to unlicensed peddlers, but that the new law delegates this authority to village code enforcement personnel as well.

 “If a peddler comes to your door, you should ask for identification, because any legitimate charity or utility will have valid identification,” said Cavallaro.

“If they don’t have that, or if they can’t provide a copy of their permit to peddle, you should contact the village, and we’ll try and send somebody in the area to write the summons,” he continued.

A resident asked if the new law applies to door-to-door soliciting of a religious nature.

“There is an exemption with regard to religious-type peddling that exists in the current law, because we don’t want to impinge on religious freedom,” responded Village Attorney Dwight Kraemer.

Kraemer added that a new electronically based fingerprinting method in issuing licenses to peddlers will also be incorporated into the law to speed up and increase the efficiency of the process.

A resident wanted to know if homeowners need permits to install signs discouraging soliciting on their properties.

“The preferable way to prevent this kind of activity at your homes is to put a small sign saying ‘No Soliciting’ on your front door,” said Cavallaro.

“It doesn’t hurt to have those signs as long as they’re not too numerous or too obtrusive, and you would not require a permit to put a sign on your own property,” he stated.

The mayor also mentioned that the new ‘Neighborhood Watch’ signs that have been installed in certain areas of the community have an additional notice attached stating that peddlers must have licenses.

Residents also asked for more information on the proposed changes to the Nassau County Police Department and wanted to know if the village would be affected.

“The county executive has announced a new plan to reorganize the way the police department is structured by closing several precincts and converting them to ‘community policing’ centers,’” said Cavallaro.

“It is not going to affect the Third Precinct, which covers the village and is the biggest and busiest precinct in the county,” he continued.

“The county executive has pledged to the county residents, and also to the Nassau County Village Officials Association, that whatever reorganization takes place is not going to affect the response times, and it’s not going to negatively affect the number of police that are on the streets.

“He’s indicated that, because of the reorganization, there have actually been more police on the streets because people are being shifted from administrative and headquarter duties to patrol duties,” said Cavallaro.

 Public safety was also a topic of concern regarding several other matters scheduled for discussion at the meeting.

One was a public hearing to consider renewal of a cabaret use at Avanti, a Post Avenue nightclub.

The board wanted more information on a recent incident at the club involving a scuffle between a patron and security staff.

Avanti representatives responded that police who were called to the incident decided not to issue a disorderly premise summons because of extensive cooperation from the club’s personnel.  

Representatives from Avanti requested a change in the club’s hours of operation, as well as a two-year renewal of the club’s special use permit.

They also asked for a possible waiver of the year-to-year requirement to notify properties within close proximity on a radius map.

“I think that the board is more comfortable with a renewal on a more regular basis, frankly, so that we maintain more control over what’s going on at that location,” said Cavallaro.

“Also, the law changed, so the statute now requires the notification process with a special use permit, which is not something that we could or would waive.

“The reason for that is that a special use permit, by its nature, is a use that usually the surrounding property owners are interested in, and oftentimes they do have an opinion as to how the operation is being run,” said Cavallaro.

The board granted Avanti a one-year renewal with modified hours of operation, which eliminated Monday morning hours. The new hours of operation will be Thursday into Friday morning until 2 a.m. and Friday into Saturday morning and Saturday into Sunday morning until 4 a.m.

Another matter discussed by the board was a proposed installation of a streetlight pole with an attached node from NextG Networks, a telecommunications service provider. The pole would be installed on the northwest corner of Livingston Street and Powells Lane.

“This is not a formal public hearing, because NextG had a public hearing when we entered into the original right-of-way use agreement,” said Cavallaro.  

“There are four nodes installed already, and this will be the fifth. This will facilitate the cell service that’s provided by NextG, and we will be receiving the benefit of a streetlight, which will be installed by NextG at their expense,” he continued.

According to a NextG representative, the company needs a location on Powells Lane to provide appropriate coverage to its customers.

Additionally, it was determined by the company that none of the existing poles in the area could be used because NextG is not allowed to install its equipment on poles carrying primary power, or high-voltage electricity.

The mayor mentioned that the company originally chose a different location on Powells Lane, but the village decided to move the location due to aesthetic reasons.

A resident expressed concern about the safety of such a device, especially since the pole would be located near the vicinity of Powells Lane Elementary School.

“According to the Federal Telecommunications Act, a local municipality cannot use perceived health detriments from this type of an installation as a reason for declining its placement,” said Cavallaro.

“The reason for this is that there is a presumption that the type of radiation that gets emitted from a cell tower or cell node of this nature is not detrimental to health, particularly because of the way it gets dispersed once it emanates from the point of origin.

“As a matter of federal law, there’s very little that we can do to prevent the installation of this type of equipment on the basis of a perceived health detriment,” explained the mayor.

The board decided to take the matter under advisement before making a decision.

In his mayor’s report, Cavallaro announced that he would be meeting with Senator Jack Martins on the following morning to discuss a potential repair and replacement plan for the Ellison Avenue Bridge.

“This has been an ongoing battle between the village and the Long Island Rail Road for almost 20 years, and the issue has been funding,” said the mayor.

“Senator Charles Fuschillo, who is the State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, told me that the money is available; it’s now just up to LIRR to work with the Department of Transportation to finish the planning.

“When the project does commence, that road will probably be closed for a year or more, which is unavoidable,” continued the mayor, adding that the board is examining a road closure plan to reroute traffic.

“It’ll be disruptive to a certain extent, but certainly well worth having the project completed.  

“The indications are good that the project is going to be moving along,” said Cavallaro.

There were also several liaison reports from other board members.

Trustee Steven Corte, who also serves as the Village Assessor, informed residents that the Tentative Assessment Roll has been published and is available for viewing.

“If residents want to know their assessments for the 2012-2013 year, the information is available in the main office of Village Hall,” said Corte.

Trustee Beaumont Jefferson, who has worked with Westbury Little League for several years, invited the community to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Westbury’s Little League championship at an upcoming program by the Westbury Historical Society.

“Tom Donohue, who was part of that championship, will be there to talk about his experiences,” said Jefferson.

“I try to have both past and current players come out to that event to show the community the rich history Westbury has with baseball,” he continued.

The program will take place at Westbury Library on Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Deputy Mayor Joan Boes, who is the liaison to the Westbury Senior Center, announced that the annual golf outing will take place on May 16.

“This has really become a significant fundraiser for the seniors, especially with the cutbacks in funding. We would like this event to be more and more successful each year, so if anybody can help or participate, please call the Senior Center,” said Boes.